REAL ESTATE - UK banking giant HSBC is considering selling off its UK headquarters in Canary Wharf in a 15-year sale-and-leaseback deal.

No price tag has yet been attached to the world’s largest single-occupier building. An HSBC spokesman said market conditions had encouraged the third largest global bank to "investigate the possibility" of a sale-and-leaseback deal.

The bank has hired CB Richard Ellis to sound out potential investors for expressions of interest – a process expected to be complete by the end of the first half of 2007.

HSBC came to the idea of a sale-and-leaseback agreement after ruling out converting its UK real estate to a real estate investment trust (REIT). "That doesn’t prevent a REIT investing in the property," said the spokesman.

This will not be the bank’s first sale-and-leaseback deal. Of its 68 million m2 global property portfolio, it has already sold off country headquarters in Brazil and Singapore. "It isn’t a new concept for us," he said.